San Francisco

San Francisco, California, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1776; Incorporated: 1850
Location: The Pacific coast of northern California, United States, North America
Motto: "Gold in Peace and Iron in War"
Flower: Dahlia
Time Zone: 4 AM Pacific Standard Time (PST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 67%; Black, 11%; American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, 0.5%; Asian and Pacific Islander, 29%; Hispanic origin (may be of any race), 14%
Elevation: 47 m (155 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 37°77'N, 122°41'W
Coastline: 40–50 km (25–30 mi)
Climate : Mediterranean-type climate with consistent, moderate temperatures. The year is divided into distinct dry and wet seasons, with most precipitation occurring between November and March. A distinguishing climate feature is the fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean.
Annual Mean Temperature: 15°C (59°F); January 12°C (53°F); August 18°C (65°F)
Average Annual Precipitation (rainfall and melted snow): 49 cm (19.33 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 415
Postal Codes: 94101-88

2. Getting There

The city of San Francisco is situated at the tip of a peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west, the San Francisco Bay on the east, and the Golden Gate, a narrow marine passageway between San Francisco and Marin County to the north.


Several interstate highways provide easy access to the city, including U.S.-101 and State Route 1 (the Pacific Coastal Highway). I-5, the north-south highway that runs from Canada to Mexico, reaches San Francisco through Loops 580 and 680. U.S.-50 also passes through the city.

Bus and Railroad Service

Amtrak provides service to San Francisco on the California Zephyr, which runs through Salt Lake City, Denver, and eastward to Chicago, and the Coast Starlight, which runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Trains with regional routes through California include the Capitols and the San Joaquins.


San Francisco International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, handles most domestic and international flights to and from the city. It services flights from about 50 major carriers.


With 40 deep-water piers, San Francisco is one of the leading port cities on the Pacific coast, handling about one-third of the country's West Coast trade, amounting to more than 200,000 tons of cargo annually. It has been designated a U.S. Port of Entry and a free trade zone. Freight is also carried to and from the region by a number of major rail carriers and trucking companies, and all major air freight carriers land at San Francisco International Airport.

San Francisco Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 724,000
Area: 122 sq km (47 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 59.5% white; 29.1% Asian or Pacific Islander; 10.9% black; and 0.5% Native American
Nicknames: The Golden Gate City, Baghdad in the Bay

Metropolitan Area

Population: 4,051,000
Description: San Francisco and surrounding communities
World population rank1: 59
Percentage of national population2: 1.5%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.0%
Ethnic composition: 67% white; 25% Asian or Pacific Islander; 7% black; 1% other


  1. The San Francisco metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the United States' total population living in the San Francisco metropolitan area.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) provides commuter rail service between the city and 26 stations in the East Bay area. The Municipal Railway System (Muni) operates San Francisco's famed cable cars—popular with both commuters and tourists—and a system of above-and underground light-rail vehicles. There is also ferry service between San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.


Many of the sights in downtown San Francisco can be covered on walking tours. Areas for which tours are available include Chinatown and Pacific Heights. Among the tours focusing on specific areas of interest are Victorian homes tour and a Dashiell Hammett tour that covers sites linked to his detective, Sam Spade. The city's restored cable cars—which have been declared a historical landmark—carry visitors over a 16-kilometer (ten-mile) route. Bus tours of San Francisco and the Bay Area are also available, as are scenic cruises of San Francisco Bay, which offer views of the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz prison.

22. For Further Study


A useful university directory for college students is the following directory of top universities and colleges in the United States listed by individual state, which also includes a university directory, edu search and a university search tool. Great university directory resource.

Cityguide Online. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Convention and Visitors Bureau. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

San Francisco Guide. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

San Francisco home page. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Government Offices

City Hall
401 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-4000

Mayor's Office
401 Van Ness Avenue, Rm. 336
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-6141

San Francisco Planning Commission
1660 Mission St. 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 558-6414

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau
Convention Plaza
201 Third Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 974-6900


Golden State
R.H.L./Golden State Inc.
555 Nineteenth St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

San Francisco Business Times Magazine
275 Battery St., Suite 940
San Francisco, CA 94111

San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94103-2988

San Francisco Examiner
110 Fifth St.
San Francisco, CA 94103


Barrett, Liz. Frommer's Irreverent Guide to San Francisco. 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan Travel, 1998.

Benton, Lisa M. The Presidio: From Army Post to National Park. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

Caen, Herb. Baghdad by the Bay. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1949.

Chester, Carole. San Francisco. New York: Longmeadow Press, 1994.

Doss, Margot Patterson. The New San Francisco at Your Feet: Best Walks in a Walker's City. 3rd ed. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991.

Fong-Torres, Shirley. San Francisco Chinatown: A Walking Tour. San Francisco: China Books & Periodicals, 1991.

Gold, Herbert. Bohemia: Where Art, Angst, Love, and Strong Coffee Meet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

O'Reilly, James, Larry Habegger, and Sean O'Reilly . Travelers' Tales San Francisco. 1st ed. San Francisco: Travelers' Tales, Inc., 1996.

Twain, Mark. Mark Twain's San Francisco. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963.


Jaffe Productions in association with Hearst Entertainment Television. Golden Gate Bridge. [videorecording]. New York, NY: A&E Home Video, 1995. 50-min videocassette.

Going Places. San Francisco. James Avery, host. MPI Home Video, 1998.